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Phra Thepyanmahamuni
(Chaibul Dhammajayo)
Religion Buddhism
School Theravada, Maha Nikaya
Dharma names Dhammajayo
Nationality Thai
Born (1944-04-22) 22 April 1944 (age 71)
Singburi, Thailand
Senior posting
Based in Wat Phra Dhammakaya, Pathum Thani, Thailand
Title Most Venerable
Religious career
Teacher Phramonkolthepmuni, Chandra Khonnokyoong

Phrathepyanmahamuni (Thai: พระเทพญาณมหามุนี) is the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Thailand and the president of the Dhammakaya Foundation.


He was born Chaibul Sutthipol on the 22 April 1944 to Janyong Sutthipol (his father) and Juree Sutthipol (his mother)[1] At Suan Kularb School, Bangkok, Thailand, Chaibul during his adolescence, started to be interested in Buddhism.[2] Having matriculated from Suankularb Wittayalai School (Secondary) in 1963, Chaibul was enrolled in the Faculty of Economics, Kasetsart University.

While in college, he became a student at the Meditation Centre of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen. It was here that he first met the Buddhist nun Chandra Khonnokyoong, one of the most respected Buddhist Meditation teachers at that time. Under Kuhn Yay's supervision, Chaibul attained a certain level of knowledge of Buddhism.[3]

Chaibul also got to know many fellow students both in Kasetsart University and in other universities who were interested in practicing meditation. One of these early acquaintances later became his assistant in the endeavor to establish the Dhammkaya Buddhist Centre. His assistant was Mr. Padet Pongswardi who became a Buddhist monk and is now well known as Phrabhavanaviriyakhun, the Vice-abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.


After his graduation from Kasetsart University with a B.Sc degree in Economics, he was ordained at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen on the 27th of August 1969.[4] Since the early days of the Phrathepyanmahamuni has ordained, he started teaching Dhammakaya meditation. He has taught the people what the Dhammakaya is and Dhammakaya have existed within everyone. He is a teacher in the specialized approach to meditation known as Dhammakaya meditation. In the beginning, the meditation courses were carried out at a private lodging called 'Baan Dhammaprasit' within the compound of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen. On 23 February 1970, the group moved to a plot of donated land in Pathum Thani Province. Ven. Dhammajayo and a group of devoted Buddhists transform the site into a wooded parkland with a system of canals.[5]


Phrathepyanmahamuni has experienced his share of controversy. In 1999[6][7] and again in 2002[8][9] he was accused of charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to corruption. Social critic Sulak Sivaraksa criticized him for promoting greed by emphasizing donations to the temple as a way to make merit.[6] Widespread negative media coverage at this time was symptomatic of Phrathepyanmahamuni being made a scapegoat for commercial malpractice in the Thai Buddhist temple community in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.[10][11][12] In 2006 The Thai National Office for Buddhism cleared Phrathepyanmahamuni of all accusations[13] when he agreed to return all the alleged embezzled funds to the name of the temple. He was subsequently restored to the position of abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.[14]


Phrathepyanmahamuni influenced millions of people within Thailand and worldwide to practice meditation form of Dhammakaya. He set up the Dhammakaya Open University in Azusa, California in 2003 to offer degree courses in Buddhist studies. He encouraged Thais to quit drinking and smoking through the activities of Anti-Drinking and Anti-Smoking program. World Health Organization (WHO) presented the 2004 World No Tobacco Day Award to Phrathepyanmahamuni in recognition for his achievement of activities of the Anti-Drinking and Anti-Smoking program on 31 May 2004[15]

Phrathepyanmahamuni persuaded Thai Youths to come to the temple and participate in various community and social services. Hundreds of people participate in various activities annually. Up to present, these programs have been in existence for almost two decades and a total of tens of thousands of young Thai people have ordained while almost five million young Thai people have participated in such activities.[16]

His movement has expanded to over eighteen countries worldwide. He has also established a Buddhist satellite network or Dhamma Media Channel (DMC.TV) with a 24-hour-a-day Dharma and meditation teachings broadcast to the audience worldwide.

In 2006, the World Buddhist Sangha Youth (WBSY) committee unanimously agreed to present the most honorable Universal Peace Award[17] – the highest award in commemoration of year 2550 B.E. – to Phrathepyanmahamuni (Ven. Dhammajayo Bhikkhu), the president of Dhammakaya Foundation whose work in dissemination of Buddhism for more than 30 years is vitally recognized.[5]

Phrathepyanmahamuni is the third royal title bestowed on this monk by the Thai Royal Family in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the work of Buddhism in Thailand. The dates and title of promotions within the royal order are as follows:

Monastic title Date of Award
Phra Sudharmayanathera 5 December 1991
Phrarajbhavanavisudh 5 December 1996
Phrathepyanmahamuni 5 December 2010


  1. ^ Tawandhamma Foundation (2007) The Sun of Peace (Bangkok: New Witek), p.20
  2. ^ ibid. p.24-25
  3. ^ ibid. p.30
  4. ^ ibid. p.44
  5. ^ ibid. p.48
  6. ^ a b Asiaweek 17 September 1999
  7. ^ David Liebhold (1999) Trouble in Nirvana: Facing charges over his controversial methods, a Thai abbot sparks debate over Buddhism's future Time Asia 28 July 1999 [1]
  8. ^ Yasmin Lee Arpon (2002) Scandals Threaten Thai Monks' Future SEAPA 11 July 2002 [2]
  9. ^ Controversial monk faces fresh charges The Nation 26 April 2002
  10. ^ Julian Gearing (1999) Buddhist Scapegoat?: One Thai abbot is taken to task, but the whole system is to blame Asiaweek 30 December 1999 [3]
  11. ^ Bangkokbiznews 24 June 2001 p.11
  12. ^ Matichon 19 July 2003
  13. ^ Bangkok Post 23 August 2006
  14. ^ Yuwa Song News Today 23 August 2006
  15. ^ Tawandhamma Foundation (2007) The Sun of Peace (Bangkok: New Witek), p.180 [4]
  16. ^
  17. ^ ibid. p.185


English language

  • Luang Phaw Dhammajayo (2006) Pearls of Inner Wisdom: Reflections on Buddhism, Peace, Life and Meditation (Bangkok: Dhammakaya Foundation) ISBN 978-974-947830-1
  • Luang Phaw Dhammajayo (2007) Pearls of Inner Wisdom: Reflections on Buddhism, Peace, Life and Meditation (Singapore: Tawandhamma Foundation) ISBN 978-981-05-8521-1
  • Luang Phaw Dhammajayo (2007) Tomorrow the World Will Change: A Practice for all Humanity (Singapore: Tawandhamma Foundation) ISBN 978-981-05-7757-5
  • Luang Phaw Dhammajayo (2008) Journey to Joy: The Simple Path Towards a Happy Life (Singapore, Tawandhamma Foundation) ISBN 978-981-05-9637-8
  • Luang Phaw Dhammajayo (2008) Lovely Love (Singapore, Tawandhamma Foundation) ISBN 978-981-08-0044-4


External links[edit]